Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Party Primaries: Threat or Menace?

So in the end, MA went pretty much party-line Democrat. No huge surprise, and on a case-by-case basis generally a good thing: IMO, the Democratic candidates were mostly better than their Republican opponents. (One or two instances that I am less sure about, but I didn't have a lot of respect for most of the Republicans in the race.)

OTOH, in principle this kind of bugs me. I confess, I'd really like to have a sane, moderate alternative -- my beef with the Republicans is that few of them were anything like "moderate". Indeed, their messages mostly ranged from incoherent ("Reduce taxes and cut spending -- and don't forget that those evil Democrats are cutting your services!") to pure ugly tribalism (I am *really* tired of the "Pelosi == Satan" thing). I wound up pissed-off at some of the Democratic campaigns as well, but by and large the Republicans were consistently worse.

And the thing is, the system selects for this. Gerrymandering is a major force in the badness (and we're in for another round of that particular horror imminently), but the worst of it seems to be the way that primaries select for partisanship. In a heated environment like we have today, you *have* to be partisan and nasty in order to win the primary -- and some of the people who result from that process are genuinely partisan and nasty, not just pretending for sake of the primary. So the volume keeps ratcheting up.

So here's the question: would open primaries make a difference? I don't mean the weak-tea version we currently have in MA (party primaries that unenrolleds can vote in one of) -- I really mean a two-round election, with a single open non-party primary and a runoff between the top vote-getters. It would be bitterly opposed by the party machines, of course (since it would essentially break their power), and kind of sucks for the small marginal parties, but I'm failing to come up with any way in which it wouldn't be better for the electorate as a whole. It would greatly disadvantage extremists and tribalists, in favor of moderates -- in my book, that's a win. And it might just lead to some Republicans who I could actually vote for, which I've seen few of in the past decade or two...
Tags: politics

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